Pope John XXIII

John XXIII

1940s: One of the Vatican's most skillful diplomats in the tumultuous years surrounding World War II, the prelate Angelo Roncalli, born to sharecroppers in northern Italy, is credited with saving tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust as the Vatican's envoy in Turkey, through exit visas, forged birth certificates and other assistance.

Oct. 28, 1958: Elected pontiff at age 76 after nearly 20-year papacy of Pius XII.

Dec. 25, 1958: Pays a Christmas day visit to sick children in their hospital beds at the Vatican's Bambino Gesu pediatric center in Rome, highlighting his paternal and pastoral role as bishop of Rome.

In January 1959, just three months into his pontificate, announces he will convene the Second Vatican Council.

The 1962-1965 meeting of church leaders from around the world brought the 2,000-year institution into the modern era, spawning major changes such as allowing Mass in local languages and strengthening the role of laity in the everyday life of the church.

The council encouraged efforts to improve relations among Christians, a path pursued by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. It also revolutionized the church's relationship with Jews.

On April 11, 1963, he issues a plea for world peace weeks before his death, aiming the appeal at Cold War leaders, U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. His "Peace on Earth" encyclical establishes human rights as the foundation of peace.

June 3, 1963: Dies of stomach cancer

Sept. 3, 2000: Beatified in a ceremony led by Pope John Paul II.

April 27, 2014: To be canonized in a dual ceremony with John Paul presided over by Pope Francis.

Frances d'Emilio, Associated Press